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One More Reason Lawyers Should Avoid Email
By Nicole Black
Most lawyers rely heavily on email, which isn’t surprising. After all, lawyers are used to email and have been using email to communicate with clients for decades now. This, despite the fact that it is inherently unsecure and is no different than sending a postcard written in pencil through the post office. Nevertheless, lawyers continue to use email for confidential client communications, even though there are more secure methods of communication available, like client portals (more on those momentarily).
As email has evolved, lawyers have begun to take advantage of new ways to use email, such as email tracking tools. Typically this type of software allows the sender to track a wide range of occurrences, including when an mail and its attachments are opened by a recipient, the geographical location of the recipient, how long the email and any attachments were viewed, how many times they were opened, and whether they were forwarded.
Because of the intrusiveness of the data provided by email tracking, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that its use by lawyers has raised some ethical red flags. For example, in New York Opinion 749 (2001) the Committee on Professional Ethics concluded that a lawyer may not “use available technology to surreptitiously examine and trace e-mail and other electronic documents.” A similar issue was also addressed by the Alaska Bar Association Ethics Committee in Opinion 2016-1. In that opinion, the Committee determined that the use of email tracking software to track emails sent to opposing counsel is ultimately both dishonest and unethical, even if its use if disclosed.
Lawyers like you have access to sensitive information. You are also privy to confidential data that was entrusted to you by your clients. After all, information is essential to the law practice. That’s why data leaks should never happen.
With today’s technology and the Internet, I’m 100 percent sure that most of your data, if not all, are now in your computers. Unfortunately, the worldwide web is not all rainbows and butterflies. Cyberattacks are real and closer than you think. Don’t be the next victim. VPNs can protect you and your client’s data from any potential online information breaches.
What is a VPN?
A VPN or Virtual Private Network is a service that allows you to access the Internet securely by routing your connection through a server and concealing your online activities. A VPN operates by utilizing the shared public network while keeping privacy through security systems and tunneling protocols.
Here’s how a VPN will work for a legal practitioner like you. Know that, technically, a VPN produces a safe connection between your computer and any server on the Internet. Aside from preventing attacks from hackers, your data transfers will be encrypted whenever you are online
Why Do I need a VPN?
What does it mean to be a good lawyer? Experience? Skills? Well, you know that as a lawyer you are part of a legal community. This makes you responsible not only for the client’s privacy but also for your own. With a vast stream of data at your fingertips, from sensitive case information to court evidence, what you have at your computer is tempting to online predators.